Sunday, 26 March 2017

Great Borne & Starling Dodd

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Route: Bowness Knott, Rake Beck, Herdus, Great Borne, Gale Fell, Starling Dodd, Dodsgill Beck, Gillerthwaite, Bowness Knott

Date: 26/03/2017
From: Bowness Knott

Parking: Bowness Knott
Start Point: Bowness Knott
Region: Western Fells

Route length: 7.4 miles (12.4 km)
Time taken: 03:47
Average speed: 2.1 mph
Ascent: 857m
Descent: 871m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Great Borne (616m), Starling Dodd (633m)

Other Summits: Bowness Knott (333m), Brown How (330m), Herdus (562m), Gale Fell (518m)

Other points of interest: Rake Beck

We'd enjoyed a window of exceptional weather during a three-day stay in the western Lake District. Helping a friend to reach their target of completing the Wainwrights took me back to some areas I've not been to in recent years; namely the Lank Rigg group and the modest Low Fell and Fellbarrow.

We had one final walk up our sleeve to polish off the remaining Western Fells; the two, in particular, being Great Borne and Starling Dodd. I first did these on a marathon round of Ennerdale a few years ago, a route that took me to Pillar Rock and beyond, but today we'd be walking just these two (and a number of smaller tops along the way) from the large car park at Bowness Knott.

Our first climb was up the outcrop that lends its name to the car park. Bowness Knott commands a fine position along the shore of Ennerdale and has a great view of the area. We climbed up alongside Rake Beck, hopping over a low fence to gain access to Bowness Knott.
The view from Rake Beck
Bowness Knott
The summit was once crowned by trees but have since been felled, leaving a battered landscape behind. The top now offers an extensive view into the heart of Ennerdale.
Brown How, Herdus and Great Borne
Crag Fell
Ennerdale from Bowness Knott
The high fells that ring the valley
We retraced our steps towards Brown How, another outcrop which stands before the main Rake Beck path to Great Borne. Brown How and Bowness Knott forming part of a line of harder rocks that run from Anglers Crag to the top of Great Borne, emerging again in the Buttermere valley at High Ling Crag and Rannerdale Knotts.
Rake Beck - the route of ascent - can clearly be seen
Bowness Knott from Brown How
Approaching Rake Beck
The climb up alongside Rake Beck is steep - part walk, part scramble, but is easy enough for most. The highlights include the perfect example of a traditional fox trap and the delightful waterfalls of the beck itself.
Looking up Rake Beck
The circular fox trap
Brown How, Bowness Knott, Crag Fell and Ennerdale
Rake Beck
Looking down Rake Beck
Rake Beck
The path emerges on a flat, grassy plateau between Great Borne and Herdus - a subsidiary of the main fell. We visited Herdus first before skirting around a boggy looking moss towards the final climb up through the stones to Great Borne. A trig pillar and stone shelter mark the summit.
The summit of Herdus
Great Borne
Climbing towards the summit
The top of Great Borne's trig pillar
Great Borne's summit
Grasmoor, Wandope and Whiteless Pike
The path falls easily from Great Borne, following a fence. This is the Ennerdale Fence, a historic boundary that ran (or runs?) the entire length of Ennerdale - it's a walk I intend to do in the summer. It's pleasant and grassy on the route between Great Borne and Starling Dodd with only a few boggy bits to contend with.
Following the fence towards Starling Dodd
Great Borne
Climbing Starling Dodd
From Gale Fell the path begins a steepening climb up Starling Dodd until it reaches the summit which, for an unpopular fell, is sensational. The all-round view is superb, especially on a day like today.
Hen Comb, Low Fell and Mellbreak
Starling Dodd's summit
Panorama from Starling Dodd
We made our way off the summit. dropping down some slippery scree into the valley of Dodsgill Beck. Though not marked on the maps, there is a faint path of sorts that runs down the valley towards the plantations around Gillerthwaite. Once past the steep bit, we cut across country to the gap in the trees to reach the road that runs to the Youth Hostel.
Heading down Dodsgill Beck
Great Gable
The gap in the trees heading for Gillerthwaite
Red Pike and High Stile
Pillar and Pillar Rock
It's a surprisingly long walk along the road from Gillerthwaite to the car park though it's largely flat save for a small hill right at the very end - typical.
Pillar, Black Crags, Scoat Fell and Steeple
Pillar overlooking Ennerdale
Looking back along the Ennerdale road
Crag Fell